Aung Htein | DMG
24 June, Mrauk-U
Twelve people detained while transporting rice for internally displaced people (IDPs) in Kyauktaw Township appeared before the Mrauk-U District Court on June 23.
Another 54 people are apparently wanted in connection with the case.
“They will be examined after the village administrators are asked whether another 54 accused, who have been avoiding arrest, were in their village,” said U Aung Than Win, a lawyer for those facing charges.
The 12 defendants were arrested at the No. 9 Mobile Operations Command gate on April 4 after withdrawing 150 bags of rice from the Kyauktaw Township General Administration Department. The group had intended to deliver the government-provided rice to the residents of the Nyaung Chaung IDP camp.
A total of 15 people including some IDPs and the Nyaung Chaung village-tract clerk, U Ohn Naing, were arrested on April 4 and subsequently charged under Sections 50(j) and 52(b) of Myanmar’s Counter-Terrorism Law.
Three of the detainees are under age 18 and were granted bail, but will also stand trial separately at the Kyauktaw Township Court.
Family members insist that the defendants have been wrongfully accused.
“I think the arrest is not fair. My son is an honest worker,” said Daw Aye Aye Soe, the mother of defendant Ko Aung Phyo Thet. “He never visits other places. He does not have ties to the AA.”
U Ohn Naing’s family is facing financial difficulties as his salary has been suspended while he stands trial, said his wife Daw Ma Aye Hla.
“We don’t do any business. We depend on his salary,” she said.
Their next court hearing has been scheduled for July 7.